[Long installment because I'm going out of town and won't be around on Monday. Happy Weekend!]
Chapter 6: Everybody Loses Sometimes
The Titanís Flare
"It's a gosh darn mess down here," General Var Suthra said.
I was standing in front of my holo terminal. T7 stood next to me. On the holo image was General Var Suthra, General Graza and Master Kaden.
"Had to have been one of her stealth shuttles - the body just fell out of the sky, covered in explosives. When the chemical plant blew it took out half of labor valley and now the gas cloud is spreading to other sectors," General Var Suthra said.
General Graza frowned. "If we don't come up with an answer to her Stealth fleet we're going to lose this war fast."
"What we need is to stop the problem at its source," I heard myself say. "Where is Darth Jinobie?"
"She's not hiding. Imperial comm chatter says she took the majority of her army right to Balmorra."
In my little mind prison I sighed deeply. During my time on Corellia I had liberated a chemical factory the empire had taken over to start work on a powerful bomb. I'd gotten to the factory before the Empire could finish it and we'd liberated Labor Valley. Once the Republic had taken over the factory they'd continued building the bomb the Empire had started.
It was the perfect target for Laresa - an utterly merciless act on a planet the Empire had lost, that the Republic needed. She was driving us into a bottleneck - right to Balmorra. It wasn't just that she didn't want to hide, she was ensuring I had no choice but to come. It was such a bitter irony that my sister had become the thing I'd accused her of being before we'd defeated the emperor.
Maybe it wasn't just the Voss - perhaps I had a great deal of culpability in what had transpired. I hadn't approved of Laresa's turn towards the Darkside. I hadn't had a chance to even begin to reconcile the path she'd chosen - only the knowledge that I'd wanted too. Perhaps mind controlling me against her hadn't been so difficult.
It was a bitter thought, and I shoved it aside for now. I had to cling to the hope that my message had gotten through to Doc, that Laresa's children had gotten off of Voss and were on the way, that my sister hadn't crossed a line she couldn't come back from.
"We cannot allow her to begin manufacturing her droids at the Arms Factory," I head myself say.
"If you had of brought her back like you were suppose too, she never would have left Tython and this wouldn't have happened!" Master Kaden glared.
"That was then and this is now Master Kaden," I heard myself say patiently. "If she's on the ground, she won't hide from me. I believe it's time for the republic to rewrite the Battle of Balmorra."
Voss; Gormak Lands
We were positioned on a rock ledge, high enough to be hidden. My cybernetic eye zoomed in farther than the rest of them could see. My nephews were sandwiched between a dozen Voss Commando's and being led quickly away from Gormak-Koss, which from the looks of it was under attack by the Voss.
I hoped the Gormak were kicking the **** out of them, and if not, as soon as I got my niece and nephews back to their mother I was going to come back here and help. Tana had informed me of the whole plot and I was pissed. Really pissed. Beyond pissed. One, that meant Laresa had been right about Xerrin and I'd been wrong. I didn't like being wrong. Two the Voss had now fraked with not one, but two of my sisters and they'd tried to kill me. Three, Laresa was destroyed, and had destroyed a whole helluva lot over the lies. Personally, I was proud of her. War was suppose to be ugly, and usually the nastier it got, the quicker it got solved. I didn't feel particularly bad for the republic either. But Laresa liked toeing the line, looked for a darker kind of balance. Now that she'd gotten kicked so far over it, I wasn't sure if she could come back from it.
Either way, the Voss were fraked and that did make me feel slightly better.
I slid back over to Tana and Andro. "Found the boys. No sign of Kaliyo."
We all whirled with blasters pointed as Kaliyo dropped down into our hiding spot. She looked a lot banged up and a whole lot angry. Tana looked relieved to see her, and we holstered our guns.
Tana punched Kaliyo in the shoulder. "What the hell happened?!"
"A lot more of them. Too many," Kaliyo grumbled. "And I'm going to shoot your brother."
"Because he knocked me out! They were getting closer and we weren't going to be able to hold them off much longer so he hits me - lights out."
"Sounds like a Sith," I said amusedly, looking back down at the road.
"Lancoro did it," Kaliyo cracked her knuckles.
Well how about that. He'd likely saved Kaliyo's life with that move. I'd be proud of him for his quick thinking after I got him.
"How you wanna play this, Ria?" Andro asked.
"They'll pass by the eastern side of this ledge, the main road still has Gormak patrols they won't want to deal with. Andro, I'm going to need a nice big distraction."
"You say the dirtiest things to me," Andro grinned darkly.
I chuckled, put a hand on his face and gave him a playful shove. I looked at Tana. "You go stealth and get your brothers loose. Kaliyo you cover Tana in case anything goes south."
Tana nodded, we got into position and waited. When they were about thirty meters away I gave the signal. Tana and Kaliyo disappeared. Andro pulled a thermal grenade from his belt and chucked it at the front of the patrol. The first two commandos died, and like a domino effect the rest were blown off their feet.
I popped up and started blasting, giving Tana the chance to grab Lan and Vanceto, making them both disappear too. Kaliyo covered their six. Andro came up beside me and from our ledge we started lighting the Commando's up.
By the Tana got her brothers free and rearmed the Commando's were dead. I twirled my blaster and grinned down at my nephews. "Why am I always rescuing you?"
Lancoro looked like he was pondering that. Vanceto shook his head and jerked a thumb at his brother, like only Lan needed rescuing.
I was about to climb down to hug them when my instincts went off like a sensor alarm. "Get down!" I shouted and shoved Andro hard, jumping at the same time. The grenade exploded on the ledge behind us and at the last second I used the force and threw up a quick shield to block the blaster fire coming at us too.
We hit the ground hard, and just a week out from my little bout with Mekethia, my body made the smallest sound of protest. The blast had given me a good smack too because the world was moving in slow motion. I gave my head a hard shake to clear it but my ear was ringing so loudly it barely registered the chaotic sounds of a fire fight beginning.
I rolled onto my back, blasters in my hand, just to see two more squads of Voss Commando's and a very dark looking Mystic coming towards us. The sight of the mystic snapped me back into high gear. The world sped up again, I took aim at him and fired. Somehow I missed, because he kept walking.
"I'm about tired of this ****," I heard Lancoro growl. He tossed the blaster Tana had given him aside and picked up one of the dead Commando's heavy rifle cannons. Instead of backing up he started attacking. Vanceto, lightsaber in hand, force leaped right at them, volleying their blaster fire back at them. The impact of his landing knocked several of them off their feet and before they had a chance to recover, like a pure Juggernaut he started slicing through them. Tana had dropped to the ground, took up sniper position and got one head shot after the next.
Guess were weren't leaving yet. Can't say I wasn't proud. I got to my feet and Andro and I shared the exact same though; we both pulled grenades from our belt and hurled them at the approaching Commando's, adding to the chaos. Kaliyo compounded the situation when she literally jumped into it like the crazy ***** she was.
I was starting to think they hadn't brought enough people. But I didn't want to find out what it was like if they did - not yet at least. I had to get these kids back to Laresa, so we need to move. It was that thought that made me realize -
"Where'd the fraking mystic go!" I shouted.
"Infrared!" Andro shouted back at me.
"We need to be moving! Lancoro, start backing it up!" I shouted as I activated the infrared on my eye implant, sweeping my gaze across the field. The Mystic was in front of Andro and about to jam a knife into his chest.
I didn't even shout out to him, I dropped one of my blasters so I could force push Andro and fired at the Mystic. The Mystic disappeared before my shot could cut through him. A heartbeat later mr. dark rainbow face appeared in front of me, knocking my blasters from my hand. I decked the Mystic right in the face, then planted my foot in his chest, knocking him back from me.
"Get them out of here!" I shouted at Andro. I was about to use the force to bring at least one of my blasters back to my hand, but the Voss forced my attention back on him and the wicked looking knife he was trying to kill me with. He tried to slash me with it, but I brought up my forearm to block and swung at him again. Before my fist could connect he disappeared.
I took a one step stumble when I swung at air and anticipating him I quickly set my footing and whirled around, bringing my leg with me. I almost smirked at his predictability when he tried to get the jump on me from behind and instead caught my boot to the side of his head. He tumbled to the ground and I force called my blaster back to me. He'd just gotten to his feet when I curled my finger around the trigger and fired. My blast struck him in the chest. He didn't drop. Instead he surged into me and tried to ram that stupid little knife into my eye.
The tip struck my implant breaking the glass and giving my brain a little zap that really annoyed the **** out of me more than it hurt. He kicked my feet out and we hit the ground hard, me right on my back with him still trying to drive that knife into my brain. I had my forearms up now, gritting my teeth and pushing back against him, though admittedly I wasn't having much success - he was heavy as a fraking boulder. Just when I thought this might be one fight I lost - Lancoro rammed into him.
I took a second to gasp in a breath, snatched my blaster back into my hand and rolled up to one knee. Lancoro had the Mystic underneath him, his knee pinning the mystics knife hand to the ground. Lancoro was wailing on him, just pummeling the guy. I could feel my nephew's anger in those strikes; painful rage that manifested into pure physical power. I was proud for a second - then I remembered the Mystic could disappear and had just taken a blaster to the chest like it was nothing. If he was taking Lan's hits like that he was setting him up for...
"Lancoro move!" I surged forward, diving into my nephew just as the stupid little Mystic disappeared. As I knocked my nephew to the side the Mystic reappeared behind me, his arm around my throat, just where I'd thought he'd be. My arm was already raised, my blaster pointed right at his head. I pulled the trigger just as he jammed that stupid little knife into my side.
Get into enough fights you know what's fatal and what isn't. He hadn't hit anything important, though it hurt like hell. I pulled the trigger again just to rub it in that he was dead.
"Not getting up from that are yah!" I dropped my arm and looked down at the knife in my side. I was about to pull it out myself when I suddenly felt... wrong. The world started spinning, the ground underneath me toppling...
Andro caught me before I fell completely. Tana, Vanceto, and Kaliyo ran over. I hoped the silence meant they'd cleaned the rest of the Voss out, not that I was losing it. Andro pulled out the knife as carefully as he could, and Vanceto quickly handed him the lightsaber so he could cauterize my wound.
I hissed in pain. "Was that fraking necessary?!"
"You're fine, wimp." At first Andro sounded relieved. Then he looked at my face. "What's wrong?"
I couldn't hold my blaster anymore, it was too heavy. Since when were my blasters too heavy? "There was something on that knife," I said through gritted teeth.
Andro snapped his gaze down at the dead Mystic. He grabbed the knife and sniffed the blade. He shoved it at Tana. "Wrap it up, don't touch the blade."
"We gotta move." With trembling hands I managed to shove my blaster back on my belt and gripped Andro's arm.
Andro stood up, looping my arm around his neck, supporting my weight which annoyed me to no end but there wasn't much I could about it. I felt like my insides were on fire. I just need to get back to the ship, I told myself. Guss was a damn find medic, so long as we got there quick I'd be all right.
Varan-Wyn appeared from the shadows, watching the Outsiders run away. Two more Mystics appeared at his side.
"Should we get them?" one asked.
Varan-Wyn shook his head, smiling. "No. There is no need. She will act as all Sith do, and take her rage out on the Jedi. We have time."